Taking Stock….

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Taking Stock

Choose to listen to your inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else. Do what you know in your heart is right for YOU. Its your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. And be sure to appreciate every day of your life. – Melchor Lim (emphasis mine)

I have been struggling with severe excruciating bouts of sciatica for the last week and honestly it effectively dampened my desire to come alive here and do some heart sharing however I am better now, almost emptied my pharmacy of their supply of ice pack compress. A no holds barred struggle between the tremors that accompanied the initial icy feeling and the amelioration of the intense pain, I won!!! And the last week of the month was an exciting one, had an interview in Central London and despite my efforts to appear as normal as possible, it obviously did not work because most of the symptoms were triggered and caused quite a bit of consternation for Tony, Lloyd (?) and Hugo, who admitted that they had never seen anything like it within the five (5) years they have been dealing with individuals and unabashedly, I can take that as a complement now because they see thousands of people daily but most importantly, they were eager to learn and that tells me how amazing they really are. Life is all about learning and only stops in the grave, stimulating their ability to see the big picture was such a surreal experience and I left there knowing I had made new friends and shared myself with them.

Yesterday, I spent the best three hours this year in the company of one of the most remarkable ladies I have ever been privileged to encounter. Yeah, twas a lunch date at Harvesters’ and I truly left there with a great harvest excluding a filled belly of ribbed steak, mushrooms, chips, a healthy portion of vegetable salad and a glass of sparkling Chardonnay to round it off with. Now that is something for you to drool over…….

One of the issues that came up recurrently was the undeniable fact that every one of us has a facade and it is only the brave who are able to step out from the security of their rooms and face the world without that facade, armed with the knowledge that being different is the best compliment you can ever pay yourself. We took stock of our individual lives because hey!its December already and I remember how stunned I was whilst rearranging (I do that every moment when I can) my room when I came across my medical report dated January 2013 and it only seemed like the day before I sat with Professor Hanna reviewing my case on that day. Nostalgic indeed but so much has gone by so quickly that like the dropping leaves from the trees, we rarely ever have the time to notice when they drop. I have realised that the best thing we can and will ever get is NOW and so what we choose to do with it is as significant as the rest of our lives and yes, erring is an ability but our response to that ability is what differentiates us from the rest of the billions all over the globe. I have had my ups and my downs, each in its own varying measure but both present nonetheless. I have overcome a lot of the shackles that hitherto held me back, still trusting God for the perfection that He has promised and I eagerly await.

I have decided to devote this month particularly to taking stock (I kinda do that every morning but this is special) because I am truly overwhelmed by the faithfulness of The One whose purpose and counsel no one can thwart. I am humbled by the greatness of His Grace and favour bestowed upon lil ole me, even at those really dark moments when I just did not want to be found – His Grace found me. Amidst the gales and storms of the year, when it seemed like I had finally been cast adrift like flotsam on the vast oceans of the earth – His Grace found me and upheld me. What an awesome experience it is, being able to bask in and luxuriate in His Amazing grace……………………….. Getting that sms from my father in response to my congratulatory message to them on their 40th wedding anniversary, telling me that their journey would have been incomplete without me being a part of it was just beautiful. Such reminders, subtle and loud compel me to acknowledge that I am and can never be just a statistic in this world. Regardless of how rough the road is, I know one fact – there is an expected end and whilst I am being directed there, I choose to utilise every moment with everyone who has graciously given me their time, their resource, their support, their derision and disrespect (these ones really don’t know any better). And thankfully, I have gotten my back brace so I am glad to have been there to provide a shoulder for those who needed it and for those who will.

The Christmas trees are all out, the decorating is in full earnest, shopping is in crazy mode and I pause and wish I could tell as many as I can that everyday is a day to be grateful for and rejoice in. Take a look at the very things that you have even as you take your shower and be thankful, naturally we all get to shower at least once a day so…..! Be thankful for those moments of absurd laughter, be thankful for those moments of sorrow (it definitely made you think just a little bit deeper, didn’t it?), be thankful for the different seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter, not everyone can. I still chuckle when I recall Joiv capturing distaste for London’s weather because she almost ‘lost’ her toes to frostbite but that is a reason to be thankful for because I remember my walk with Lawrence who had lost his toes but was still cheery enough to egg me one when I just felt like giving up. I am thankful for Vixen, for daring to do something different and demand happiness from life. I am thankful for Lisa, gorgeous and stunning but who has been such an amazing support of strength and encouragement. I am thankful for Elaine, Pam and my fellow compadre in this battle with dystonia, for being able to rip off that facade and stand tall and strong even with the pain. I am thankful for Shirls, Ele, Vichy – refusing to quit even when I was more than a burden. I am thankful for my brothers from High School – Como, Djecomms, my friends from University – few but awesome even in their little number.

I can go on and on, however I am very grateful for you all that take the pains to read and walk this journey with me. Alas! the night is indeed over and what a wonderful time we will enjoy now the day is come.  For you, my appeal is use this time NOW, to be thankful and grateful for the mistakes and the lessons you have learnt because without learning, you are sure to flunk the tests of life. Be thankful for yet another opportunity to take stock of your uniqueness and acknowledge that there is so much that you can do with just that one person that you encounter, but you must choose to or else regret the opportunity past.

“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” – John Henry Jowett

Remember yet again, that a life without thanksgiving is worse than those who have passed away. Make your NOW count and rejoice in the memories tomorrow.

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!

Keeping it real…..

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I hate travelling but again that is a necessary evil. A complete turn around from my pre-myoclonus era where travelling was so much fun and one of my hobbies. Anyway, life is not fair because life in itself has been tarnished and tainted and still is and so just being yourself is one of the most difficult challenges you can ever dare to undertake. I recall the tale of the tale of the simple lady who was invited for lunch at the Queen’s request on account of her widespread gestures of concern for everyone she ever came across, and when she was interviewed on what set of manners she intended to display during the courtesy lunch, her answer has always been one of my fundamental principles “I have only got one set of manners and that is who I am“…..impressively profound. In the course of my travels, I have come to acknowledge that life is much more than an endless pursuit of fame and wealth and recognition, a concept I wholeheartedly abhor but one that appeals to majority of individuals – ‘it is all about the green backs!’.

Being cast into the physically challenged category has been an eye opener in many regards and a completely new field of learning for me. I have come to appreciate that being able to do anything at all is something worth being proud of, so pause today, take stock of your abilities (regardless of how little they may seem) and say a word of thanks to Him that has blessed you. I recollect the many times I have been forced to take a large dose of patience pills just because insensitivity abounds and is largely becoming a second skin to many individuals, waiting on board many an aircraft whilst all passengers disembark just because I have special needs and being subjected to hurtful and derisive looks and remarks because we have largely refused to be human in our everyday living. And now, I know that wherever I meet any individual striving with some form of physical challenge, I choose to pause and salute their bravery because being yourself without any form of inhibitions is difficult enough without adding on some form of physical challenge.

Each new day is filled with its own share of troubles but remember that even when life throws the kitchen sink at you and knocks you out, wake up with the courage to still be yourself but duck next time where you can. “Sometimes it is just easier to tell a stranger than to tell the people you are close to. The freedom of speech is my liberation from solitude and if you should take that negatively or with annoyance then that’s on you to look the other way” – Nicole Hill. I have come to realize that so many of us are absolutely terrified of even attempting to discover who we really are and so my question is if you are scared to define or know who you are then what business do you have at attempting every other thing because life consists of not just knowing who you are but being bold enough to stay true to who you are. I may not have been born a quadriplegic but even if I were, that is not who I am. People ask me a lot if I was born this way, and amidst my answer lies this truth – I was born for a purpose and I dare anything to make me believe otherwise. Behind my smile, lies a whole lot of pain and an unappealing  bouquet of other discomforts but I choose to still be myself irrespective of how unfair life may seem presently.

Today marks a new beginning, and I walk in that knowledge knowing that even in chaos, God can work out order and harmony. Vacillating between many personas just goes to show how shallow your understanding of life is because as long as you fail to accept yourself for who you were made to be then yours will just be a charade for people with understanding to learn from. Each time the dime drops, I dare to bend over and pick it up even if it means exposing my backside for life to kick me over but guess what, you still have the dime in your hands so pick yourself up and do something with what you have got in your hand. Desire to dream but do something with what you have now and stay true to who you are. Many extraordinary individuals have opted to jettison their right to choose to be themselves for the sake of a life of pretense and despair in order to maintain a facade that hides sheer cowardice and stagnancy. Always realize that ‘No matter what you do in life, your words, your actions, your looks, your thoughts, you are never going to please everyone’ – Nishan P. so what is the point in embarking on a fruitless venture when you have a unique life ahead of you?

I am constantly stunned by the sheer audacity of individuals who are hell-bent on trying to be what the world wants them to be – by choice of career, relationship etc, many are actually skilled at blaming others for daring them to be themselves, hurling and trading insults every time you scratch their fake veneer. – because if only they could channel just a mite of that energy into discovering who they are then maybe, just maybe we will find ourselves being more loving, more accommodating and more sensitive to the lives all around us. For every time, we choose to make our lives more meaningful by doing those little ‘grand’ gestures to those around us, what a doorway of anticipation and self-development opens up for us. I will never know what it means to be perfect just yet but what I know is that I can be myself despite my aspiration for perfection someday and choose to make my own life an example for as many as I come across. That is my watchword even when the days seem so lonely and my journey unending, I will stay true to who I am.

I have to live with myself and so 
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun 
and hate myself for the things I have done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf 
a lot of secrets about myself 
and fool myself as I come and go 
into thinking no one else will ever know 
the kind of person I really am, 
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect 
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
but here in the struggle for fame and wealth 
I want to be able to like myself. 
I don’t want to look at myself and know that 
I am bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know, 
I never can fool myself and so, 
whatever happens I want to be 
self-respecting and conscience free.

These beautiful words from Edgar Albert Guest, painstakingly learnt and memorized in High school are forever etched in my memory. Make today count because that is all we each have got, and be mindful that when you do, you can cherish them tomorrow.

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!

 

Associating with knowledge……

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“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving” – Albert Einstein

For the last two weeks, I have not only been in a roller coaster of emotions enhanced by the unpredictability of Myoclonus but had to shake off the feeling of being a dilettante and bestir myself from the bleakness of the present and focus on the beauty at the end of the tunnel and I must apologize for the short break from writing. Talking about the very things that constantly and endlessly swirl through my brain, which is one of the effects of insomnia, I choose again to make my life of some meaning whilst I yet trudge through this solitary journey, enjoying the company of the very few that God has placed in my path. In the last fourteen days, I have terminated some relationships, renewed some, re-birthed some and made a few new ones. For the very journey we all engage in would be as desolate as the cemetery without the presence of the variety of individuals we all come across – the good, the bad, the ugly and the different.

A couple of Fridays ago, I was opportune to attend the Old Students meeting of my alma mater, and expectedly it was a beautiful reunion; meeting with individuals after 2 decades and some odd years ago. Many had passed through before me, and ironically I was the baby of the group however there is nothing like a fora where you get to mingle with individuals, some of whom had left legacies or feats of daring and probably stupid acts. And as Pope John XXIII stated “Men (and women) are like wine – some turn to vinegar, the best improve with age”,  it was a stunning display of truth as we all mingled and regaled ourselves with old tales. Generations mingling with generations without the limitations of the dictates of high school. I was fortunate to attend one of the best Unity High Schools back in the days, of course with the usual mix of tyrants, bullies, the fair, the weirdos, the geeks, the beauties and the hotties. Unsurprisingly, each of us had some story to share and it was a beauty to see many who have distinguished themselves in their chosen paths.

Unerringly, tales swirled around experiences back then, the lives of those who had passed on and the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with some who we had received a few slaps from, with those who had meted out corporate and non-corporate punishment. Standing with those whose names back then was enough to send us scuttling for safety. I recall vividly a couple of chaps who I felt were personally assigned to make my life a living hell, and also recalled the privilege of walking the same paths with the progression of years as those who had before us. I recall that as newbies, we were forbidden to walk on the pavement in front of the classes belonging to those in Upper Six (someone had aptly painted it red, so twas the red carpet for us and woe betide you if you had the boldness to step on the red carpet). We looked upon some as though they were giants and adored the likes of those who were remarkable enough to overcome the predilection for juvenile delinquencies and grasp the opportunity to positively impact the lives of those below them. Looking at schools today, one can weep because in our bid to give our kids what we didn’t have as kids, we have absolutely forgotten to also balance it with what we did get as kids – as a society, we are hopelessly shirking our responsibility as parents and as generations pass by, the kids have become the parents and we have devoted ourselves to doing their bidding.

One of my greatest appreciations is the years I spent in my alma mater and even though, back then it seemed as though it was horrendous especially in the early years but as the years progressed, I realized that without the experiences received back in the years, I just may not be who I have become today. And that is exactly what life does to us, sometimes it seemed as though we were (and are) being continually and persistently punished for just being there but guess what, our cores were being formed and just like I always say, we were making choices to be who we wanted to be regardless of the birthing pains of character development. Life is a process! I made friends, many I have lost contact with but the few who I am in touch with constantly sing the same tune – what a privilege it was to attend Federal Government College, Warri. What an association of brotherhood (and sisterhood) has been formed, one that with the years, forges bonds that are so strong but can yet be stronger. Scattered all over the globe, are individuals who were thrust through the furnace of FGCW and have emerged stronger and better. some more vile, a few departed but alas we are still a result of our choices.

Primolevi says “In modern times, it is only by the power of association that men of any calling exercise their due influence in the community” One truth rings clear, we must exercise our due influence in our community but the question that always go unanswered especially when men and women gather is what does our community really care about – how much we know or how much we care?

An old Swedish proverb that once hung down the rafters of ‘Ye Old Tavern’ Ronneby, Sweden says that ‘happiness when shared is double happiness, and sorrow when shared is half sorrow’. Looking around, we are witnesses to so much sorrow borne by ourselves and others and whilst some of us are capable of handling theirs, many around us are almost consumed and overwhelmed by their portion of sorrow – be it physical, emotional or spiritual. There can be no clearer appreciation of the labors of other men in our lives if we choose to turn a blind eye to those who are in dire need of a shoulder to lean on. There are needs to be met, and  it takes a supreme effort and a clear understanding of our purpose on earth to go beyond just asking ‘what is wrong with you?’ and actually do something. Yesterday, as I shakily boarded the bus, Madge (the driver) bellowed several times “Can someone please give this disabled man a seat?’ and as I made my way to the vacated seat, I cringed at the obvious term but I have refused to allow that becloud my ability to convert the little I know into expressions of care. Associating with my family of strangers, be it for a few stops or a few minutes, to let them know that I will not succumb to Myoclonus and there is enough joy to go round the world……if only they make the right choices.

Despite my struggles with Myoclonus, OCD et al, I choose to  do what I can with the little I have in making that one life just a little bit more bearable because I know that my core is and will always be strengthened by The One who alone can be relied upon. It is my core that remains unflinching in the face of all the bleakness, and whilst my body tries to adapt to these unpredictable bouts of incessant painful changes and weaknesses, my core remains strong in Christ alone and I can boldly tell you that regardless of what you are passing through ; Andrea, Shannon and the rest of us who are battling this, realize that I associate because I truly care. Putting aside my own troubles and pain and tremors, to share some humor and care to as many as I come across. I do not need good luck because I know that my end is pre-determined and there is only one outcome – no white flag is ever gonna hang from my door.

Remember that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Make a choice to live for something worth dying for. Do not be a dead sea!

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!

 

Little Gestures…..

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“You know about a person who deeply interests you more than you can be told. A look, a gesture, an act, which to everybody else is insignificant tells you more about that one than words can” – Henry D. Thoreau

Wednesdays are my favourite days – I was born premie on a Wednesday, it marks the middle of the week (an opportunity to improve and turn around from antecedents), it deviates slightly in nomenclature and it describes me perfectly and I wanna share this one.

“Whenever you are not living on the edge, it simply means that you are taking up too much space” these are the words Morgan Freeman has striven to adhere to since his encounter with Clint Eastwood and those same words resonated a chord within me when I heard them on Sunday because I have learnt that everything about life is a balance, and that balance is clearly evident in the beauty of the life and creation that surrounds us. And for me, living on the edge is a delicate balance that we all should strive to either by choice or by compulsion. I am greatly moved by the number of feedback that I have received from this simple but thoroughly enjoyable self assigned task of writing, and to the number of unique individuals all over the world who I have been privileged to come in contact with….I doff my hat and applaud them. Being different, even in little gestures by following this blog, liking a link or actually posting a comment, is such a monumental task especially in a world that consistently wants you to just be part of the crowd.

Yesterday was the service of songs of an old schoolmate of mine from High School, a sad loss because he was still in his prime and I recall my conversation with my old classmate about how much a living hell he almost made my life back then but what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. So thank you, Tabana (Tagbo Chuba Agbim) – may your soul truly find bliss! Going through Facebook, I was awed at the size of the crowd that were able to make out the time to make their presence felt (unfortunately I missed that of my friend, Debbie). In the words of my old classmate – Andy, someone who has also tried to be there for me, belonging to such an awesome group like the alumni of your High School is such a profound experience and at my last count, there are over 2,000 FGCW facebook members and this is no mean feat because I have also met some truly wonderful individuals there. Dee, you are always in my thoughts and HCM, thanks for the love.

I recently came across an article that stated the top 5 greatest regrets of the dying – Wishing you had the courage to truly express your feelings, Wishing you had stayed in touch with your friends (now it is pertinent to correctly define a friend as one who is neither scared to correct you when you are wrong nor scared to stand with you even when you are all alone) and Wishing you had let yourself be happier. Now how scary are these wishes because they epitomise the very fears that plague many of us today and still a countless number are too lily livered to confront their fears. Need I remind us of the inevitability of death? “Maybe the fact that when we do admit that death is inevitable, some of us may be bold enough to lead meaningful lives” – the sands of time will always be there if we acknowledge that making our lives sublime will ensure we do leave footprints behind when we are gone. And as I marvelled at the size of the crowd at Tabana’s funeral, I asked myself ‘why do we always wait till people are departed before we are bold enough to show those little gestures that go a long way than mere words or being just an attendee at a funeral?’

Each day arising in its splendour provides us with ample opportunities to be more resourceful in the lives we have been privileged to encounter, with special attention to those who we know are going through a tough patch at that point in time. Regardless of how irrelevant we choose to be, considering that your pocket list or to-do list begins and ends with you, one thing stands sure – you will either be remembered for what you did or what you did not do? John Ruskin says ‘A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package‘ and all around us, extremely tiny packages are bustling about, trapped in their fears of being unable to liberate themselves from self-centredness. How expensive is a kind word offered to someone in pain? How close to bankruptcy will sending a bouquet of flowers or a get well card or a gift to someone who is ailing bring you to? How fulfilled do you feel when you don your well pressed garments and sit in attendance at the funeral of someone who you were blessed to know, knowing that there were so many little gestures you could have chosen from to say ‘I care about you’ whilst the deceased was still alive? When do we actually bestir ourselves to actually begin to live a life as opposed to just existing?

I have the profound privilege of experiencing one of the countless blessings from God after staying many years with one of the lowliest individuals that can ever be found (and you really have to search for this category of individuals – they are committed to a life of misery, woe and an inevitable end), one who contracted the deadly HIV from her clandestine amorous affairs and sought to desperately pass it across by attempting to conceal it from me. I stand unscathed and stronger, and I can say without an iota of pride that when you truly give, you can never ever be disconcerted or discomfited. What is it about this 6-letter word (GIVING) that causes the pride of creation to suddenly choose to become a blithering being – a far position from your real position? And how much consolation will the sudden effusion after the life is gone really bring to you? WAKE UP! Look around you, the Tabanas, the Debbies don’t give a hoot anymore – you had the chance but you chose not to. Making that persistent choice to just be a face in the crowd and maybe if you aspire hard enough, an image in a group picture is definitely not the way to live a life sublime, least of all leaving footprints in the sands of time.

It is such an honour that I am living on the edge, and encountering unique individuals who are also doing so, even with the botox shots and the bouquet of medication whose side effects are often scarier than the effects of the drugs themselves. Individuals who despite their cramped fingers, painfully distorted muscles and limbs and tremor-giving ‘moves like Jagger’ can still find time to show those little gestures that tell you that they are still willing to give even when they ought not to. Being un-scared to talk about their fears and still be bold enough to see hope in the hopelessness that seems to assail them on all sides. I recall my last conversations with my attorney and solicitor and friend, and with regards to their question about how I was coping with the bills and related issues – I can say honestly thank you to all those who chose to say no and do nothing because like Albert Einstein, I also can say I did it by myself – strengthened all the way by Him who delights in me. We are all presented with opportunities daily to do something right, give of ourselves without fear because in truly giving, we experience not just happiness but joy (and I assure you the latter is definitely better and longer lasting).

I choose not to focus on the nay sayers or the dead seas that surround me, but instead reach within me and still give irrespective of how little these gestures may be because I am wholly convinced that my little will be transformed to  much in the life of just at least one individual who desperately needs it. And so I say, to you, feel free to call on me and you will have a listening ear in the first instance because I know what a lonely road it is, being different and living on the edge, and how priceless true companionship is and together we can each proclaim “I AM STILL STANDING, bring it on!!!”

Remember, to live a life or simply exist is a choice that must be made, nonetheless the fact is we were created for purpose.

פרידה עד שנפגש שוב בתזמון שלו עצמו

Adios!